Today I went in-line skating for the first time since I've had all of my adult teeth. I don't know if any place else in the world is still in-line skating, but in Germany, it's still as cool as it was in 2006. My area rep here is really into it. And so, naturally, I agreed to go with. I thought to myself, really, how hard could this be. Six year old Margaret could do it, why can't sixteen year old Margaret? A lot has changed since my permanent teeth came in and I mean a lot. First I put the skates on confidently while attempting to smother the voice in my head that knew this was a bad idea from the start. Laced, locked, and Velcro-ed, I was ready. Then I stood-up, kind of. Five or six meters down the road, I realized that there was no one I could stumble like a new born baby deer for the next five kilometers, it just wasn't going to happen. Every step seemed like a gamble and sooner or later I was going to fall. I did fall, a lot. I'm going to go ahead and say that I spent most of the time on the ground. In the end, my area rep realized that perhaps a little more practice was needed before I could make it completely, we looped around the block all as I stumbled, tripped and fell. It was a frustrating experience. But then an epiphany, an exchange year is learning to in-line skate.
For all the exchange students reading this, I'm sorry. I know how many metaphors were told to us in orientation. Seriously, how much can you compare something to inanimate objects. To all of the non-exchange students reading this your welcome, here is your first exchange year metaphor.
Anyways, if you already know how to inline skate then this metaphor falls flat, but try to reach back in your memory to the little you who still believed in Santa and thought that chokers looked good. Try and remember.
As I was there in the middle of the road close to abandoning all hope of becoming a professional roller-blader, I realized that this is my exchange year.
First you boot-up. Confident, even if not entirely, you get onto the plane, sure of yourself and completely ready for what's ahead, or at least you're pretty sure that you are, I mean really it can't be that difficult.
When you get there, there are in-lining instructors. They teach you the theory of in-lining, it's history, the rules. You're around other aspiring roller-bladers. You're safe. But soon, the course is over and you're left there, with roller blades and knee pads in hand.
You're still pretty confident that you can do this.
Then you go to a roller-blading Olympics, A.K.A school. This place is filled with professional level roller-bladers and you're still stumbling you're way. And they make it look so easy, why can't you do that?! There's no way that you could ever keep up with them!
Slowly though, you start to figure it out. It's easier than you though it was at the beginning. You can keep up, dare you even say that you're getting the hang of this?
But then, a twig, or a brick. You run straight into it, who even put that there. Maybe it's homesickness, culture shock, trouble with the language or something like that. But you don't have to pick yourself up alone. Your host family is there, and you're YFU Rep, and your natural family. You're not alone in your roller-blading adventure.
Finally you get the hang of it forreal this time. You trip and stumble every now and then, but you have it figured out, finally. And then, here you are, an Olympic roller-blader more or less, and no worse for the wear, with hopefully all of your teeth left.
Wednesday, October 8, 2014
Thursday, June 26, 2014
As July 31st gets closer and closer and I start getting ready for next year, its becoing a real challenge not to totally freak out. I had no idea that a person could both be anticipating something and dreading something so much at the same time. I'll be living in Spelle, Germany, which is a small town about two hours west of Hannover. It's in Lower-Saxony and about a thirty minute drive from the Netherlands. My host family has one daughter who is eleven. Orientation is in about two weeks in Chicago, and I am really excited to meet all the other American students going to Germany next year. One of my biggest concerns about the upcoming year is the language. I don't have a backround in German and the little bit of German that I do speak is underwhelming. But there's no better way to learn than from experience, right? I know that next year will be one of those huge experiences that I'll talk about for the rest of my life. Of course I'll miss my family and friends here in the states, but I am really looking forward to making new connections. Part of me wishes that I could stay here next year and still go to Germany to, but obiously I can't do that. I really hope that I can make the most of my experience next year, my main goal is to learn the language and the culture.